In the Christmas story, Mary and Joseph make their way to a town which was not their own and where they were strangers.
It was difficult for them because when they got to Nazareth, their destination, 'there was no room at the inn' and Mary was about to give birth to her child.
A stable was the delivery room and a manger was his cradle. The Son of God began his human life as a stranger and was only welcomed by outsiders – because that's how shepherds were seen – and other visitors from foreign lands. His own people knew him not.
That's the traditional Christmas story which we celebrate at this time. Today, it is a story which is being replicated all over our land as migrants, asylum seekers and foreign workers seek to become part of our community.
The Christmas message is one of welcome, acceptance, recognition of dignity and love for every human person. This is a message which is at the heart of Christ's teaching.
'I was hungry and you fed me; I was homeless and you gave me shelter and, in as much as you do it to these, you do it to me.'
I hope that this Christmas feast will be a time when we welcome the strangers in our midst. I hope we can make room in our hearts so that, unlike Christ, they can be made to feel at home and really valued as our brothers and sisters.
This requires generosity and love from us and let it be our special Christmas gift to those who are in need.
I wish you all a very Happy Christmas.